Running at The Blue Room Theatre from October 14 -25, Welcome To Slaughter brings horror to the stage with the story of a young couple at the mercy of an insane relationship counsellor at a remote rural retreat. We caught up with director, Michelle Robin Anderson
What is Welcome To Slaughter about?
Welcome To Slaughter follows the road trip of a couple and all the horrors that entail. Essentially, it is a theatre show about fear. The small everyday fears we have as humans and the large primal fears that can hold us back in life or lead us to make poor decisions.
The performance is inspired by horror films and thrillers, using that intense sense of fear to open up a discussion about relationships. It is not a gore fest, but there are elements of suspense and surprise. What we love about horror is how sensory it is – you feel it with every part of your body. We are working to immerse the audience in this state.
Tell us how the show has changed from previous seasons.
We have been fortunate enough to develop the show over the last couple of years, which really helps for all the ideas to gestate. We had a residency at Hothouse in Albury Wodonga. They have a program called A Month In The Country where you go and stay in an old house and have a rehearsal space so you can develop work. We managed to scare the pants off each other! There were lots of night drives and creeping around in the dark and spooking one another. At one point, the guys put a life-sized horse in my bedroom –terrifying.
Most recently, we had a creative development in June at PACT centre for emerging artists in Sydney. This was a great opportunity to test out our ideas on the floor. We had a great response and have kept tweaking the show since then. It is constantly evolving and we are now at a stage of pinning things down to present to an audience.
As a first time director, what inspired you to work on horror theatre?
The idea for this show had been kicking around in my head for a long time. I went to a quiz show and one of the questions was: Which American town actually exists – Cannibal, Slaughter or Murder? The answer was Slaughter and the town had been taken off the maps in the late 1800s. It set me to thinking what would it be like driving in the dead of night and come across a sign saying Welcome To Slaughter?
I’ve always loved the thrill of horror. The idea that you can’t look but you can’t look away. That adrenalin rush that come with the contemplation of death. It’s quite cathartic, but in the right context, also quite fun.
What’s your favourite horror film?
Suspiria is pretty great. It’s a ’70s horror set in a ballet school that is run by witches. The lights, sound and colours are amazing and even though it’s pretty off-the-wall it still manages to get under your skin.
You are working with an award-winning cast. What’s the best part about working with young creatives?
The enthusiasm of everyone working on the project has been phenomenal. I feel lucky to be collaborating with such intelligent and generous folk. As this is a devised project, everyone gets to have a say in how the show is put together and what the story is. It’s good company.
Who should come see this show?
I think most people will be able to relate to the show. That sense of being lost in the wilderness – whether it is real or metaphorical. Obviously, horror buffs will dig it but it won’t be too full on for the rest of us.
Will people be able to sleep after seeing the show?
Hopefully! Best to stick around for a drink afterwards, so you can allay your fears and tell us what you think.
For tickets and info, head to The Blue Room Theatre.